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Stripe Raises Fresh $600M, Valued At $95B

Hot payments startup Stripe has closed a big new round of funding, announcing that it's raised a $600 million Series H round that values it at a whopping $95 billion, whereby such valuation makes Stripe now the most valuable private technology company in the US. Stripe's new round came from a mix of existing and new investors including Ireland’s National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), Allianz X, Axa, Baillie Gifford, Fidelity, and Sequoia Capital.  With the new round, Stripe says that it'll bolster its European operations, particularly in Ireland where the company's two sibling founders, Patrick and John Collison, hail from. It's then no surprise that  Ireland’s National Treasury Management Agency  which's an investment fund of the Irish government chipped into Stripe's new funding round. Europe is a major market for Stripe, with 31 out of the 42 countries that the company is currently present in being from the continent. Over there, Stripe powers onlin

American Drone Maker Skydio Raises $170M, Valued At $1B+

Skydio, an American startup that makes autonomous drones, has closed a new funding round of $170 million that values it above $1 billion. The round was led by the famous venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from existing backers Next47, IVP, and Linse Capital, plus a new investor UP.Partners. Andreessen Horowitz led the new Series D round for Skydio from its Growth Fund, and with it, Skydio has now raised a total of over $340 million in external funding and then with a $1 billion+ valuation that makes it the highest-valued drone startup in the US. It seems that Skydio has drawn wide investor attraction after the US government placed China's DJI on a blacklist last year. DJI made its mark as the biggest drone maker globally and the largest in the US market but got placed on a government Entity List last year that barred American companies from supplying it with components. The blacklist was instituted by the former Trump administration due to alleged ties to

A New Saudi "Unicorn" Emerges

"Unicorn" is a common term that usually refers to private technology companies valued at $1 billion or more. Such companies are fairly common in countries like the US, China, India, and several from Europe whereas in the rest of the world, it's rare to find such companies. Sometimes, they occasionally emerge from unexpected places, like one has now done from Saudi Arabia. The American financial services company Western Union has announced that it's sealed an agreement to invest up to $200 million for a stake of up to 15% in the Saudi Digital Payments Company, or STC Pay as it's known. A $200 million investment for a 15% stake implies a valuation of about $1.3 billion for STC Pay, making it a rare Saudi 'unicorn'. Even as a rare Saudi Arabian 'unicorn', STC Pay isn't a typical startup success story, given it's a division of the state-controlled Saudi Telecom Company. It was formed and incubated under Saudi Telecom and has grown to have over

Chainalysis Set For $100M Round

Chainalysis, a provider of blockchain transaction analysis software, has said that it's set to raise a $100 million round of funding that'll value it at $1 billion. The New York-based company, which has already raised some $67 million in outside funding, gave out info on its new funding to Forbes . The new round being raised by Chainalysis is led by Addition, a newly launched investment firm from Lee Fixel, who is an experienced investor that made several super-successful bets at his former role at the investment firm Tiger Global. Other existing Chainalysis backers such as Accel, Ribbit Capital, and Benchmark are also expected to join in the new round. Before now, Chainalysis' last-known funding round was a $49 million Series B that closed this July. That round opened in February last year and stretched till July this year, with investments from firms including Accel, Benchmark, Sozo Ventures, Ribbit Capital, and Ashton Kutcher's Sound Ventures. Now, a new $100 millio

Forter Scores $125M At $1.3B Value

Forter, a New York-based startup that provides fraud detection tools for e-commerce companies, has announced that it's raised $125 million in Series E funding that gives it a valuation of $1.3 billion. The new round was led by venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners. With the new round, Forter has now raised a total of over $200 million in funding. The company says it'll use the new funding to expand its business. Forter is a platform that's deployed between the user payment flow and the payment processor of an e-commerce website to vet transactions for potential fraud and flag them if spotted. The platform is powered by machine learning and behavioral analytics tools to track customer interactions and look out for suspicious activity. To facilitate its fraud detection service, Forter has secured partnerships with payment providers like Mastercard and Worldpay and e-commerce software providers like Shopify, Adobe/Magento, and Salesforce. As to customers, the company

Duolingo Nabs $35M At $2.4B Value

Corroborating a recent report of Duolingo, the language learning app, authorizing the sale of up to $35 million in new shares, the company has now announced that it's raised $35 million in new funding that places its valuation at $2.4 billion. The funding came from just two investors being Durable Capital Partners and General Atlantic. With the new funding, Duolingo has now raised a total of $183 million in equity financing. The company says it'll use its new capital to grow its team and fuel continued investment in R&D for digital language learning tools. Since its launch in 2011, Duolingo has soared high and seen more than 500 million total app downloads across several platforms. The company says it's recorded annual revenue increases of over 100% for the past three years. Duolingo operates on a freemium model, whereby basic access to its app is free while it charges money for premium features. Even in the basic tier, Duolingo makes money from advertisements.  Durabl

Klaviyo Scores $200M Series C

  Klaviyo CEO and Co-Founder Andrew Bialecki. Photo credit: Klaviyo Klaviyo, a Boston-based marketing automation company, has raised $200 million in Series C funding led by venture capital firm Accel and with participation from private equity firm Summit Partners which had previously invested in Klaviyo and has now put money again into the company. The $200 million round brings the total amount of funding raised by Klaviyo to nearly $360 million and places its valuation at a weighty $4.15 billion. Klaviyo is a platform that makes it easy to store, access, analyze and use transactional and behavioral data for marketing purposes. The company claims that it's helped generate over $11 billion in sales for its customers so far. Klaviyo as a company is based out of the city of Boston in Massachusetts. It was founded in 2012 and bootstrapped for three years before raising its first $8.5 million Series A round in 2015 and followed by a $150 million Series B round led by private equity firm

Cato Networks Nabs $130M Round

  Cato Networks, an Israeli cybersecurity startup, has raised a single funding round of $130 million that places its valuation at above $1 billion. The round was led by venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from the likes of Coatue, Greylock, Acrew Capital, and Singtel Innov8. With the new round, Cato Networks has now raised over $330 million in total funding. The company's most recent funding round before now came just seven months ago when it raised $77 million led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, the same firm that's now come back to lead a fresh $130 million round for Cato. Cato is a company based out of Tel Aviv, Israel. It was founded by Shlomo Kramer, a renowned cybersecurity entrepreneur who previously co-founded Check Point Software, a publicly-traded cybersecurity company, and Imperva, another cybersecurity company that was publicly-traded before getting acquired in a $2.1 billion deal by private equity firm Thoma Bravo. Apparently, Krame

DataRobot Eyes $300M Round

  DataRobot, the machine learning startup, is in talks with investors to raise a fresh round of roughly $300 million that will place its valuation at over $2.5 billion, according to a report [paywalled] from Bloomberg which cites "people familiar with the matter". According to Bloomberg , investors in talks to provide the new funding include Altimeter Capital, Silver Lake, and T. Rowe Price. Already, DataRobot has raised over $430 million in outside funding, its last-known round being a $206 million Series E in September last year that placed its valuation at $1.3 billion. That round came from investors including Sapphire Ventures, Intel Capital, DFJ Growth, and Tiger Global. A new round of funding for DataRobot, and more so a $300 million round, will cement its status as one of the most capitalized machine learning companies globally. DataRobot is a platform that lets enterprises build and deploy machine learning models with ease. The company is patronized by a variety of

Getaround Nabs $25M Debt Round

    Sam Zaid, Co-Founder and CEO, Getaround.  Photo credit:  TechCrunch ,  licensed under  CC BY 2.0 Just on the heels of closing a $140 million Series E fundraise in October, peer-to-peer car rentals company Getaround has announced that it's raised a top-up of $25 million in debt financing from Horizon, which is a publicly-traded finance company that specializes in providing loans for venture-backed companies. The debt round together with the recent Series E will go towards expanding Getaround's business. Getaround has notably seen a turnaround after the earlier months of the coronavirus pandemic plunged down its business reportedly to the brink of bankruptcy. Before then, the company had raised about $400 million in outside funding, the majority of that from a $300 million Series D round led by SoftBank in August 2018.  In the earlier months of the pandemic, Getaround had two rounds of lay-offs, affecting 150 employees in January and a further 100 in March. The company'

Duolingo Seeks $35M Round

  Duolingo CEO Luis von Ahn. Photo credit:  poptech ,  licensed under  CC BY-SA 2.0 Duolingo, the popular language learning site, has authorized a sale of up to $35 million in new shares that'll place its valuation at $2.21 billion if all the shares are sold, as indicated by paperwork first unearthed by the Prime Unicorn Index . For a company the size of Duolingo, the round seems small but is on par with previous funding rounds from the company.  Throughout its history, Duolingo has raised nearly $150 million in outside funding split into small rounds of as low as $10 million to as high as $45 million. The company has not been known for raising splashy single rounds like many others of its kind. Before now, Duolingo's last-known funding round was quiet $10 million raise that came in April this year. The most recent before that was a $30 million round in December 2019 that placed its valuation at $1.5 billion.  Duolingo is one rare billion-dollar technology company that's ba

C3.ai Files To Go Public

  Tom Siebel, Founder and CEO, C3.ai. Photo credit: C3.ai C3.ai, an AI software company founded by former Oracle executive Tom Siebel, has submitted a filing to go public with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission. The company is looking to go public 11 years after its founding and with over $200 million in private funding raised along the way. Before now, C3's most recent private round placed its valuation at $3.3 billion. C3.ai's S-1 filing shows $156.7 million in revenue in the fiscal year leading up to April 2020, compared to $91.6 million in the previous year. Within the same periods, C3 posted respective losses of $69 million and $33 million.  C3.ai makes money with a suite of artificial intelligence software that's used by enterprises for a broad range of activities such as fraud detection, energy management, inventory management, and management of IoT devices. The company operates majorly on a subscription basis that pulls in most of its revenue ($135.4 mil

Udemy Seeks $100M Round

  Eren Bali, Co-Founder, Udemy. Photo credit:  TechCrunch ,  licensed under  CC BY 2.0 Online education platform Udemy is seeking to raise up to $100 million in new funding at a valuation approaching $3.3 billion, as indicated by a new filing from the company that was first unearthed by the  Prime Unicorn Index . Filings indicate that Udemy has authorized the issuance of new shares amounting to $100 million if they're all sold and at a share price that'll place the company's valuation at $3.3 billion. It's unclear if Udemy has closed the sale of new shares and if it raised up to the amount it sought. Before now, the company was backed by over $220 million in outside funding including a most recent $50 million round that closed in February this year and placed its valuation at $2.1 billion. Udemy is backed by some notable names including Stripes, Insight Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, and Prosus & Naspers. The online education company has likely seen a surge in

Better.com Scores $200M Series D

  Better.com, a popular mortgage financing startup, has raised $200 million in Series D funding led by private equity firm L Catterton, with participation from American Express Ventures, Ally Financial, Activant Capital, 9Yards Capital, and the Ping An Global Voyager Fund. The investment brings the total amount of outside funding that Better.com has raised to $410 million and is said to place the company's valuation at $4 billion. Impressively, Better.com was founded only four years ago and has grown to a $4 billion valuation in that relatively short time. The company has benefitted greatly from a surge in mortgage activity in the US amid the coronavirus pandemic, stating that it's grown its funded loan volume over 4x over the past year.  Better.com is a mortgage lender that conducts its lending process majorly online. To date, the company has funded $25 billion in home loans and provided over $7 billion in home insurance. Better.com was founded by Vishal Garg, an entrepreneur

Hopin Scores $125M Round

  Johnny Boufarhat, Founder and CEO, Hopin. Photo credit: Hopin Hopin, a London-based startup that builds software for hosting online events, has raised $125 million in Series B funding that boosts the total amount of funding it's raised this year to over $170 million. The new funding was led by existing investor IVP and new investor Tiger Global, with participation from the likes of Coatue, DFJ Growth, Accel, Northzone, Salesforce Ventures, and Seedcamp.  The new funding places Hopin's valuation at $2.1 billion, a remarkable valuation given the company was founded just in 2019. Hopin has benefitted greatly amid a coronavirus pandemic that widely boosted the need and demand for online events.  Hopin is an all-in-one live virtual events platform where attendees can learn, interact, and connect remotely from across the globe. The company, although headquartered in the UK, maintains a remote-first workforce that's spread across 38 countries.  Since its launch last year, Hopin

Nuro Closes $500M Round

  Nuro's R2. Photo credit: Nuro Autonomous delivery company Nuro has announced that it's secured $500 million in Series C funding led by asset management firm T. Rowe Price, with participation from Fidelity, Baillie Gifford, and existing backers SoftBank and Greylock. The new round follows a $940 million Series B that Nuro closed in February last year. Between the time Nuro last raised funding and up until now, the company secured the first and only federal exemption from the U.S. Department of Transportation for its R2 autonomous delivery vehicle and expanded its delivery partnerships with major retailers such as Domino's, CVS, Kroger, and Walmart. The company has begun operating its autonomous vehicles on public roads in the states of California, Texas, and Arizona, running deliveries for retailers. Nuro began making public deliveries in 2018 and has expanded its footprint since then. The company has a custom electric self-driving delivery vehicle named the R2  that tran

Tiger Global Eyes Scale AI Bet

  Alexandr Wang, Founder and CEO, Scale AI. Photo credit: Scale AI Investment firm Tiger Global has offered to invest in Scale AI, a startup that helps companies train artificial intelligence systems to recognize objects and analyze documents, at a valuation of $3.2 billion post-money, according to a report [paywalled] from The Information . A $3.2 billion valuation for Scale is more than triple its last valuation of $1 billion when it raised $100 million from a group of investors in August last year. Scale AI was founded only four years ago and has raised over $120 million in funding from investors including notable names like Founders Fund, Coatue Management, and Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. The company is notably led by a 23-year-old CEO, Alexandr Wang, a rarity given his age. Wang founded the company in 2016 after pausing undergraduate studies at the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Scale AI builds software to annotate images for training

Graphcore Nears $200M Round

  Nigel Toon, Co-founder and CEO of Graphcore. Photo credit:  TechCrunch ,  licensed under  CC BY 2.0 Graphcore, a UK-based AI chip startup, is on the cusp of raising about $200 million in new funding that'll place its valuation at over $2 billion, according to a report [paywalled] from Bloomberg . It seems that Graphcore is riding a surging market for computing chips that's driven by the increasing need for data center services as cloud adoption grows high. More so, Graphcore focuses on designing artificial intelligence chips, a nascent market that's poised for heavy growth . Already, Graphcore is well-funded with nearly half-a-billion dollars raised since its inception. The company's last funding round was a $150 million infusion in February this year that placed its valuation at $1.95 billion. Graphcore's backers include well-known names such as Baillie Gifford, Atomico, Dell Technologies Capital, Microsoft, and automaker BMW. Graphcore develops chips for artifi

Pony.ai Scores $267M Round

  James Peng, Co-founder & CEO, Pony.ai. Photo credit:  RISEConf ,  licensed under  CC BY 2.0 Pony.ai, a Chinese autonomous driving startup, has announced that it's raised $267 million in new funding that places its post-money valuation at over $5.3 billion. The new funding was led by Canada's Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, with participation from existing backers Fidelity, 5Y Capital, Eight Roads, and Clearvue Partners. With the new round, Pony.ai has now raised a total of over $1 billion since its founding four years ago. A $5.3 billion valuation for Pony.ai cements its status as one of the most valuable autonomous driving companies globally. Before now, the company's last funding round placed its valuation at around $3 billion. With $267 million added to its coffers, Pony has more capital to deploy to its autonomous driving operations. The company develops autonomous driving technology that's deployed on ready-made vehicles, just like many of its counterpa

ByteDance Eyes New Funding

  ByteDance, the Chinese tech conglomerate that owns the popular TikTok app, is in talks to raise $2 billion in new funding from investors before it seeks to list some of its businesses in Hong Kong, according to a report [paywalled] by Bloomberg . According to Bloomberg , ByteDance is in talks with a group of investors including American venture capital firm Sequoia Capital to raise new funding that could place its valuation at $180 billion. Before now, Sequoia was already an investor in ByteDance. ByteDance is preparing to possibly list some of its biggest assets including the popular Douyin and Toutiao apps as a separate unit in Hong Kong.  Before now, ByteDance is known to have raised over $7 billion in equity and debt funding. The company's backers include big names such as Sequoia, KKR, GGV Capital, Tiger Global, and SoftBank. ByteDance is currently the world's most valuable private technology company and  reportedly fetched a valuation as high as $140 billion when one

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Alert: Nikola Founder Trevor Milton Indicted On Fraud Charges

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Earnings: AMD Doubles Revenue, Triples Profit

In this earnings season, companies all over are dropping their latest quarterly results and we're here equally reporting on them. We've touched on social media companies Snap Inc and Twitter , electric carmaker Tesla , and iPhone maker Apple . Now, the next is chipmaker AMD Inc . AMD has dropped its earnings for the second quarter of 2021, showing strong prospects as revenue doubled year-over-year and net income more than tripled.   Details AMD posted $3.9bn in revenue in Q2, up 99% year-over-year and 12% from the preceding quarter. For the same period, the company's net income was $710mn , up 352% year-over-year and 28% from the preceding quarter. Doubling its revenue and nearly quadrupling net income indicates AMD has a strong yet fast-growing business. It's bound to grow even more as the company is set to complete its acquisition of rival chipmaker Xilinx . AMD makes money selling high-performance chipsets used in computers, consoles, data centers, and the likes

Antitrust: Amazon Fined $900M By EU For Privacy Violations

Tech behemoth Amazon is for the nth time in the crosshairs of the European Union (EU). The latest saga in that arena is that Amazon has been fined a record-breaking amount for alleged privacy violations, according to an SEC filing from the company. Amazon has been fined the sum of €746 million ($888mn) by the Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection (CNPD) for not complying with data privacy laws. It's the largest fine imposed under Europe's data protection law.  The fine originates from the CNPD accusing Amazon of processing customers' personal data in violation of the EU's famous-cum-infamous General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws.  In June, it was reported ( WSJ )  that the Luxembourg data protection agency had sanctioned Amazon's privacy practices and proposed a fine topping $425mn to the EU's other two-dozen or so national data protection authorities. Now, it appears that the final fine is much larger than that.  Before now, the bigges

Deal: Qualtrics Buys CX Startup Clarabridge For $1.1B

Months after getting spun out of SAP into a separate public company, Qualtrics , a major provider of online survey software, has made a major acquisition. It's agreed to buy Clarabridge , a startup that does similar work to Qualtrics in the field fondly referred to as "customer experience (CX)". Qualtrics will pay $1.1bn all with shares to buy Clarabridge. The acquisition is a major strategic play for the company, pairing Qualtrics' customer survey business with Clarabridge's similar business of measuring customer sentiment from various sources like social media posts and customer support calls. Basically, Qualtrics is in the business of weighing customer surveys directly and Clarabridge in the business of doing so indirectly . Pairing both businesses represents a major strategic play for Qualtrics. In an investor presentation, Qualtrics said that Clarabridge has $100mn in annual revenue, implying an 11x multiple that it's paying to buy the company. That&#

Deal: Amgen Buys Biotech Startup Teneobio In $2.5B Deal

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Antitrust: UK Probes Facebook's $1B Kustomer Acquisition

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Hollywood: Reese Witherspoon's Media Co. Sold In $900M Deal

A media company founded by superstar actress Reese Witherspoon has sold for a large amount to a company still in its infancy that hasn't even been named yet. That company is Hello Sunshine , a media company that produces content distributed across various platforms; movies, TV shows, podcasts, et al. Hello Sunshine has been sold to a newly-formed media venture t hat's backed by investment capital from Blackstone , the private equity giant.  The venture is led by ex Disney honchos Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs .  As it is, the Blackstone-funded venture is acquiring a majority stake in Hello Sunshine from a group of external investors while anchor shareholders like Witherspoon and her founding partners will roll over and retain their equity stakes in the newly-formed venture. Officially, the deal's financial terms weren't disclosed, but a report from The Wall Street Journal says it's a $900mn deal. According to the report, the Blackstone-funded venture will pay $500mn

Earnings: Shopify Beats Estimates, Reaches Major Milestone

In this season of earnings results and we at The Techee  reporting on them, we're here with a beat on Shopify , which has released its earnings statement for the second quarter (April-June) of this year. In Q2, Shopify beat revenue expectations from analysts and as well achieved a major financial milestone by crossing $1bn in quarterly revenue for the first time. Shopify had $1.1bn in revenue in the quarter, up 57% year-over-year. Net income for the same period was $897mn , most of which was due to a $778mn gain in equity investments, likely from Shopify's stake in Affirm , a major 'buy now, pay later' lender. As usual, most of Shopify's sales ( $785mn ) came from "Merchant Solutions", which groups additional services the company offers atop recurring subscriptions charged to online retailers. Sales from subscriptions came at $334mn in the quarter. Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV), representing the total worth of transactions made on the Shopify platform,

Markets: US SEC Takes Aim At Chinese IPOs

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken a swipe at Chinese initial public offerings (IPOs) after regulatory hiccups in China have affected many Chinese stocks listed on US markets and American stockholders holding them. The SEC has issued new guidance on Chinese companies seeking to list shares in the US, requiring them to make certain disclosures to investors or otherwise refrain from listing in the US markets. First of all, usually, Chinese companies listing in the US don't actually sell shares of the operating companies but that of shell companies with contractual relationships with the operating companies. These shell shares, known as American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) , are used to circumvent restrictions on foreign ownership of Chinese shares imposed by the country's government. Now, the SEC in a statement has made it clear that Chinese companies seeking to list in the US must provide clear descriptions of the shell operations involved in such listing

Alert: Square Buys Australia's Afterpay For $29B

It's a big day in the fintech world. There's been a major acquisition with a major American fintech company, Square , buying Australia's foremost fintech startup, Afterpay , a 'buy now, pay later' lender. Square has reached an agreement to buy Afterpay for a whopping $29bn , marking one of Australia's biggest buyouts. It's a big deal that a startup founded barely seven years ago is selling for $29bn.  Square will pay the $29bn all with shares. It means that shares of Afterpay, which are traded on the Australian Securities Exchange, will be exchanged for Square stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Afterpay is Australia's foremost 'buy now, pay later (BNPL)' lender in online retail. For the uninitiated, the 'buy now, pay later' business is a relatively young one providing alternatives to credit cards for consumers to shop online. It provides loans for consumers to shop online and then pay back in installments. Usually, credi